Abstinence, self-denial, sacrifice, abnegation, temperance: why would we want to do this to ourselves? It’s punishing, painful…and most pathetically for you, it’s difficult. So again, we ask ourselves, why would we want to put ourselves through that?
The truth is that delaying the gratification of your desires offers many benefits.
Make Do with Less
During the past few months, you’ve probably noticed the many tablet PC’s that have hit the market. Of course, these cool looking pieces of newest technology piqued my interest but I realized I already have a desktop and a netbook, did I really need the tablet? I decided to wait a month before purchasing; a month came and gone and when I was browsing the store again, I realized my desire for the tablet wasn’t there anymore. Sure, I was missing out on slinging disgruntled, colourful birds at green pigs on a larger screen, but it wasn’t detrimental to my well-being or my happiness. I thought I needed a tablet, but after waiting a month, I realized I didn’t need it at all.
When you delay your gratification, you’ll often discover that you need less of it than you once thought you did or that you don’t need it at all.
You Treat Things Better
Going back to the previous example, even if you decide that you still want the thing you’ve been holding off on, when you get it after a period of delayed gratification, you’ll definitely take better care of it.
All those toys your parents bought you, if you bought them all yourself, do you still think you would have ended up throwing out/donating that many toys? What about the shoes you really want? Are they like every other pair of shoes that you buy on a whim to end up in the back of your closet? Or will you, going forward, save up for that really special pair that you’ll put effort into making them last and look as good as the day you bought them?
When you feel like you’ve earned something (whether through saving or temporary denial), you won’t want to let that work go to waste.
You know when you buy something that you really shouldn’t? You buy that thing you really can’t afford, or you buy that thing that you really don’t need? Cognitive dissonance? Buyer’s remorse?
All of a sudden, that thing that you thought was once so cool and ‘had to have’ doesn’t seem quite so attractive anymore. The pleasure that you should have had from getting that thing is disparaged by feelings of guilt. So the result is that you can’t fully enjoy your new thing.
On the contrary, when you hold off on what you want and really work hard and earn what you want, the pleasure is all yours to enjoy and you’ll have not a second thought to take anything away from what you’ve desired.
Feelings on a Deeper Level
You know that feeling when you get into a fight with a significant other/family/friend? That feeling of anger and negativity towards them? It’s good for you. Crazy, right?
During the conflict, you feel and you’re emotional. This feeling towards that person(s) is something deep…and that my friends, is something everyone longs to have. Now, I’m not specifically referring to negative feelings, but deep feelings, whether positive or negative. It’s not only important to feel, but feel deeply. It’s crazy, but paradoxically, it’s somewhat pleasurable to feel anything - even if negative - so intensely. Why is it pleasurable? Because these deep feelings define us as individuals and give us meaning and purpose in our existence. If we cannot feel, then how do we cultivate what’s important to us? And if we don’t have anything that we feel are important to us, what purpose do we serve? Have something important to you - better yet, be the idea
At the end of the conflict, you should gain a better understanding of that person and a greater appreciation for their point of view, and most importantly, you will learn something new. All these are positive results from an unfortunate negative experience, however, without the ‘bad,’ one would never learn the ‘good.’
Quite simply, if you want to experience all emotions in its entirety, you need to understand the nuances of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ We often think of anything conflicting as ‘bad’ and anything that is harmonious as ‘good’ - of course, hardly anyone would disagree with the previous statement. But to not understand the implications of good and bad is a fault. To truly appreciate what’s good and ‘now,’ we have to go through the bad experiences and the ‘not have.’ To experience the bad is to fully feel and gain appreciation for what you truly desire - to fully grow and evolve, you have to understand and cultivate both positive and negative dimensions of the human experience.